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Can the Chicago White Sox Continue to Contend in the Face of a Youth Movement?

The Chicago White Sox are getting younger by the minute. Will this mid-season youth movement allow the White Sox to stay in the AL Central race?

Chicago has been dipping into its prospect pool in the wake of injuries and ineffectiveness by more veteran pieces.

Two moves late this week put that into sharper focus: Kosuke Fukudome was designated for assignment after coming off the disabled list, and Phillip Humber is now on the 15-day DL with an elbow strain.

It comes as little surprise that Chicago is opting to use Jordan Danks as the fourth outfielder. The rookie is batting .385 since coming aboard and is a solid pinch-running and defensive option.

Fukudome couldn’t break .200, and Danks is part of the team’s future.

Making Humber’s scheduled start Saturday nignt is 26-year-old Dylan Axelrod, who starts his second game of the 2012 season. In three appearances, Axelrod is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA.

Can Axelrod effectively replace Humber in the next few turns through the rotation? 

Aside from the perfect game, Humber has been struggling.

It is up to the young, right-handed Axelrod to give the White Sox a chance to win. That means five or six innings of solid work.

Right now, the Chicago offense does not guarantee a lot of run support. With Humber and John Danks on the shelf for now, the starting five is under some pressure.

At this point, it’s Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd and three rookies going to the hill for the White Sox. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana have been excellent on the mound. Each pitched eight scoreless innings in his last start, innings that went for naught as Chicago dropped those games in extras.

Even if Floyd has solved a mechanical problem, this is a young, inexperienced rotation that is going to have to hold up under fire.

That looks to be through the All-Star break and possibly a lot longer if Chicago is to hang in the division title race.

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Chicago White Sox: No Need to Rush John Danks or Brent Morel to Action

The Chicago White Sox have two opening day starters who are looking ready to come off the disabled list this weekend. My advice to the club: don’t be so quick to get them back in the lineup.

While Brent Morel and John Danks both appear to be nearing a return date with the White Sox, it isn’t exactly urgent to rush either player back on the field. The way Chicago has performed over the last two weeks, management can afford to exercise some patience.

In the absence of the two players, Chicago has reeled off a nine-game winning streak. Leapfrogging over Detroit and Cleveland, the White Sox now sit in first place in the AL Central by a game-and-a-half after besting Seattle 7-4 Friday night.

As Crash Davis said in Bull Durham, don’t, er, mess with a winning streak.

I’m not saying that Morel and Danks aren’t going to be important pieces in the remainder of the 2012 season. I’m not suggesting that the players avoid cracks in the clubhouse floor from now until October (though it couldn’t hurt the .177 hitting Morel).

What Chicago’s run of great baseball has done is given them the luxury of giving two injured players some additional recovery time. It won’t kill the White Sox to use it.

Morel had been hampered with back issues before hitting the 15-day DL retroactive to May 18. In his absence, Orlando Hudson hasn’t set the American League on fire with his bat, but he’s contributed since being signed by he White Sox and started all nine of Chicago’s wins during the current streak.

Morel has been in Charlotte this week, where he has made three rehab starts. He is eligible to come off the DL Saturday. Despite going 5-for-12 with the Knights, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to finish the series with the Mariners with Hudson at third.

With a day off Monday before Toronto comes to town, Morel could return to the lineup Tuesday with some extra healing time. I firmly believe that Morel should get most of this month to prove he’s the starter. However, if it could help prevent a nagging injury, it can’t hurt to bring Morel back cautiously.

According to Scott Merkin of, Danks threw 20 pitches Friday with no recurrence of the shoulder pain that has kept him out of the rotation following his May 19 win over Minnesota. On Sunday, Danks plans on another side session in which he will throw his full compliment of pitches.

Danks is set to come off the DL on Monday and there is an excellent reason to not use him immediately. Monday is that off day I mentioned earlier. Besides, Danks’ turn in the rotation isn’t until Wednesday.

Jose Quintana has thrown well in two starts with the White Sox. Giving him one last start in place of Danks wouldn’t hurt if there is any doubt after Sunday’s test.

In the case of both Morel and Danks, a little extra rest is a much better option than return visits to the DL throughout the season. With the White Sox riding the wave of a winning streak, sitting out this weekend’s action wouldn’t be a terrible idea.

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Chicago White Sox: The Great Chris Sale Panic Reflects Poorly on Front Office

Last week, Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale was a starter. As of today, Sale is a starter.

In between, Sale got bounced around like a rubber ball and we got treated to a good old-fashioned soap opera. Who needs Ozzie Guillen when we have this cast of characters?

Sale experienced some soreness as well as tightness in his pitching elbow after his last start May 1. The club’s reaction was not to simply skip a start but to announce that Sale was now the White Sox’ closer. After one bullpen appearance, a blown save in Cleveland one week later, it was announced that Sale would be undergoing an MRI.

But wait, there’s more!

Before undergoing the MRI, Sale gets on the phone and pleads his case to White Sox GM Kenny Williams. When the team returned to Chicago, everyone got together and decided that Sale would be starting Saturday night against Kansas City.

Ventura, the man who dubbed Sale the closer a few days before, told’s Branford Doolittle that the young left-hander was back in the rotation. Williams also confirmed that fact:

MRI is clean and pristine. He’s going to pitch. We are very conservative in our approach with regards to the care of particularly our pitchers. I think our history, when you look at all the injury reports over the last dozen years, will show you that.

The course of action that we’ve taken with [Sale] has not been unlike the course of action we’ve taken with many of our Minor League guys in such situations.

If that’s truly the case, it’s not surprising the White Sox aren’t developing a lot of arms. I’m fine with being conservative, but what transpired in the last week with Sale was ridiculous.

Management seemed to give up on a course of action, then plot another one before really sitting down and thinking about it. If Sale’s arm doesn’t respond to starting in the long-term, explore some other options.

Aside from the single inning he threw on Tuesday, Sale had about a week off from game action, or slightly more that the time he would have had off if he had simply skipped a start. Couldn’t that have just been done in the first place without the intrigue and the phone calls?

I’m not knocking the White Sox for being cautious. It’s just seems like an organization that has the kind of history Williams claims would have handled this situation with cooler heads.

By the time all was said and done, even Sale’s agent, BB Abbott got into the fray in an e-mail to Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Gonzalez. 

In short, yes I am extremely concerned about the way the White Sox have approached this entire situation with Chris and his future. It is his future, isn’t it?

One would hope that Sale’s future figures into the White Sox future. Hopefully WIlliams and company have a plan for that future.

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Chicago White Sox: How Committed Was the Team to Chris Sale in the Rotation?

The Chicago White Sox have cried uncle in their attempt to use Chris Sale in the starting rotation. Forget Sale’s goal of a 200-inning season. The White Sox are ending the ruse after just 32.

Am I suggesting that Chicago was never serious about the notion of Sale returning to the role of a starting pitcher? I’m not sitting in the White Sox clubhouse, but I’m sifting through the early details of this move and something doesn’t add up.

Scott Merkin of reported Friday evening what was hinted at earlier in the day. Due to soreness and tightness in his pitching elbow, Chicago is scratching Sale from his scheduled start Sunday. He will be available to start closing duties on…Monday?

Wait a minute.

If Sale is experiencing soreness, why the quick turnaround? Why not simply skip the start and rest what appears to be a flareup? After spending the offseason preparing to pitch every fifth day, why throw in the towel so quickly?

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper spells it out pretty clearly:

It’s not disappointing to us. It’s disappointing to him because this was something that he’s always wanted to do.

That doesn’t sound like a guy who was behind Sale’s bid to start.

According to Cooper, the team is making this move strictly for Sale’s long-term benefit. Again, why have him throwing heat so soon if there’s a question of arm health here?

Could it have anything to do with the fact that Hector Santiago has been moved out of the closer’s spot? Cooper goes on:

We’re doing it because we feel it’s best for him, his career and his health. It’s the best way to keep him healthy and strong. It gives us the best opportunity to do that. It’s easier to maintain that and keep tabs on this in the bullpen than it is as a starter. We already know he’s a good left-handed reliever. That’s been proven over the past 1 1/2 years.

Now we’ll be trying to make him one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball, not just in the American League. That’s all we’re at with it. Chris is going to be fine. He was upset. He wanted to continue to do this. But sometimes we have to make decisions based upon what we feel is best for that individual, and that’s what we did.

So…Sale is still healthy enough to pitch in three days but not healthy enough to start? Sale has been one of the rotation’s most effective starters (3-1, 2.81 ERA) but Chicago is giving up on him starting after just one month?

Addison Reed has yet to give up an earned run this season. If the team was really behind Sale starting, why not give Reed a shot to close before making the move?

The bullpen situation improves with Sale’s move to the pen with Jesse Crain still a ways from making a return. It gives Robin Ventura another left-hander to use late in games. It just sounds too convenient to fathom making the switch solely on Sale’s behalf.

The White Sox are letting Sale close because that’s what they’ve wanted to do all along. If Cooper wants to come out an say that, I wouldn’t have a problem seeing the logic in such a move.

Sale has worked well out of the pen since coming up in 2010. The coaching staff is playing to win now, which you have to respect. Just come out and say it instead of making Sale’s health an issue.

Otherwise, it looks suspiciously like a move made to cover for not having a closer in place this winter.

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Chicago White Sox: 6 Potential Candidates for No. 2 Hitter

The Chicago White Sox have most of their usual suspects returning to the everyday lineup in 2012. Manager Robin Ventura is charged with the task of putting together a regular batting order on his lineup card. One area in which Ventura is considering a change is the second spot in the order.

Ventura is making a case for catcher A.J. Pierzynski to inhabit that spot. Pierzynski did not bat in the second slot all season in 2011, though he did spend most of the 2008 season there.

Six different players hit second last season. Five are back with the club, including Alexei Ramirez, who batted second in 100 games.

Ventura doesn’t really have a true two guy to rely on to move runners and get on base for the big bats in the lineup. The closest thing he has to that player is Alejandro De Aza, who is slated in the leadoff spot. Here is a look at the candidates available to Ventura this spring.

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Chicago White Sox: Kenny Williams and Organization Can’t Walk Rebuilding Talk

Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams is in dire need of a dictionary this Christmas.

It seems as if Williams needs to learn the meaning of the word “rebuilding”.

When it comes to that word, you’re either rebuilding or you’re not. Trying to go halfway doesn’t cut it. So why is Williams insisting on going off half-cocked on the White Sox this winter?

Earlier this week, Williams announced that the rebuilding had begun, moving Sergio Santos to Toronto for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Okay, now where are the follow-up rebuilding moves?

You know, the trades involving contracts that pare down a bloated payroll and replace expensive players with younger more reasonably-priced talent? Because that’s what rebuilding is, Kenny.

Just days after his rebuilding pronouncement, Williams had this to say to Scott Merkin of

You know, if we have some guys have some bounce-back years and go back to their career norms, yeah,” said Williams of his team’s chances to contend with Detroit in the American League Central as presently constructed. “Mostly, if a number of things happen offensively, continued growth at third base and second, [Alejandro] De Aza continues to play the way he ended the year, and along with the obvious bigger names.

Wait a minute. What happened to the start of rebuilding? When are those big expiring contracts like Carlos Quentin, Gavin Floyd and John Danks going to be converted to talent for the future?

Williams said the following.

We will all have answers to that in the upcoming weeks and months. It’s still a work in progress, but I wouldn’t anticipate anything major unless the opportunity presents itself to add impact, young 0-3 [year]-type players. But if that doesn’t manifest itself, this just isn’t the time to make wholesale changes.

Now I’m really confused. We’re rebuilding, but we don’t want to make wholesale changes.

That’s akin to rebelling while not trying to make any waves.

Is Williams arrogant enough to think he can make questionable moves one day under the guise of rebuilding and not make obvious moves in the name of remaining a contender?

I only buy the Santos trade if it is the tip of a rebuilding iceberg. If that’s the rebuild, then it makes even less sense than when it went down Monday. The White Sox were looking to get younger and cut payroll. To do this, they traded their 28-year-old closer—who was set to make a million dollars in 2012—after resigning a 33-year-old set-up guy to a 2012 salary of $3.75 million.

Congratulations, Kenny. You got five years older in the pen and spent $2.75 million more to do it. I’m wrapping your dictionary as we speak.

Maybe Williams isn’t in an ego-driven mission to have his cake and eat it too. I have to believe that some of the trade candidates are moved before opening day this coming spring. Williams is just trying to maximize the value he gets for what he is putting on the trading block.

It had better be the case, because what Williams has accomplished right now is not rebuilding.

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MLB Trade Speculation: 5 Chicago White Sox That Could Be Dealt

Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams not making a trade is like squirrels not collecting nuts.

When you talk hot-stove deals, the question isn’t whether Williams will swap players on his roster, but which players and when. This winter figures to be no different.

With payroll an issue heading into the offseason, you have to think at least one big salary will move out of town via a Williams blockbuster. Here are five players who could be in different uniforms in the coming months.

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Chicago White Sox: Jake Peavy Could Be a Real Bargain…in 2013

Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams has several players under long-term, unmovable contracts. Jake Peavy is one of several big money disappointments Williams has acquired over the past few seasons.

Eventually, the oft-injured starter could prove to be of value to an organization. It just won’t be next year, and it likely won’t be for the White Sox.

Since Williams traded three players for the 2007 Cy Young award winner with the Padres, Peavy has pitched in 39 games. He has gone 17-13 since donning a Sox uniform late in the 2009 season. He has been on the disabled list for significant parts of those two and a half seasons. He has taken almost $35 million in salary from Chicago.

By way of comparison, Clayton Richard, the tall lefty who was the centerpiece of the package the White Sox sent West, has pitched in 63 games since the trade. He has a 24-20 record. San Diego has paid him about a million dollars in his time with the club.

The Padres paid Richard a million dollars for 24 wins. Chicago has shelled out twice that salary for each of Peavy’s victories.

What’s even worse than the thievery is the fact that Peavy was obtained to be the dominant ace Chicago’s rotation has lacked despite having a host of quality arms. Peavy has certainly talked the talk of an ace.

Unfortunately, his body can’t hold up its end of the bargain. Whether missing time to an inured ankle, rotator cuff tendinitis or a detached shoulder muscle, Peavy has not been the hurler Williams sought.

Peavy’s salary climbs to $17 million in 2012, the last year of his contract originally signed with San Diego. There is a $22 million option the White Sox could trigger for 2013, but there is little to no chance of that happening.

Instead, the White Sox are faced with one of the following scenarios:

A. Peavy plods through another injury-filled season, finishes 8-9, and moves on when the White Sox exercise the $4 million buyout.

B. Peavy’s shoulder comes around and he posts a fairly impressive 14-6 mark. He goes to Williams and says, “You know, you guys paid me a lot of money to sit on the DL these last three and a half years. Let’s call the buyout a signing bonus on a three-year deal at six or seven million per?”

C. Peavy’s pitches well, is healthy for the first time in years, then bolts to the highest bidder when Williams has the gall to balk at the $22 million option. He then goes out and wins 18 games for someone else.

In 2013, Peavy will find himself signing at a greatly reduced salary and will be more than two years removed from surgery. It is very possible that he’ll be a much better value when he isn’t being paid Cy Young-winner type of money.

Too bad for Williams that option B isn’t usually how baseball works these days.

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MLB: Will Injuries Spell Doom for the Chicago White Sox?

The Chicago White Sox have dealt with injuries throughout the 2011 season, using a deep starting rotation to accommodate injuries to Jake Peavy and John Danks.

Tyler Flowers is getting the job done so far replacing injured catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and Paul Konerko is swinging a dangerous bat in spite of a nagging bone bruise on his left knee.

Is losing Phil Humber going to finally topple the house of cards in Chicago?

Humber’s start ended early after being stuck by a line drive Kosuke Fukudome early in Thursday night’s loss to the Indians. It appeared that Humber was all right following his removal from the game and he even sounded positive about making his next scheduled start.

However, we won’t see Humber on the mound for a couple of weeks.

The White Sox placed the pitcher on the 15-day disabled list Friday, as reported by Evan Drellich of Zach Stewart replaced Humber and pitched two innings after finishing up for Mark Buehrle the night before.

Stewart’s acquisition takes on more importance with each passing day since he came over from Toronto with Jason Fasor. It may be up to Stewart to hold down the back of the rotation as Chicago attempts to stay in the AL Central picture.

The White Sox pitching depth has been the saving grace of a disappointing offensive effort this season. Can that depth see them through a tough series with Texas, followed by a short jaunt out west?

Josh Kinney was brought up from Charlotte to replace Humber on the pitching staff. His job looks to be taking Stewart’s role in the bullpen so that the 24-year-old right-hander can make Humber’s starts. Stewart is scheduled to pitch Wednesday in Anaheim.

Kinney tossed three scoreless innings after Jake Peavy was done in by the long ball in the first six. Unfortunately it came in a losing effort, Chicago’s fifth in a row.

The White Sox now trail Detroit by five games and will be without Humber and Pierzynski for the rest of the month. Hopefully no one will join those two on the DL and the team can at least tread water in the standings for awhile.

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Chicago White Sox Have Little Choice but To Wait for Adam Dunn To Click

Chicago White Sox fans are witnessing what is quite possibly the most sour free-agent signing in franchise history as Adam Dunn goes through a nightmarish season.

Dunn stunk in April. He stunk in May. He’s currently stinking up June.

He stinks against righties. He stinks against lefties. So far in 2011, Dunn has served up hot donkey stink on ice for the White Sox.

The sad news is that the only course of action may be to keep the stench in the lineup until Dunn starts to come out of the funkiest funk seen on the South Side since…I can’t remember since.

Jermaine Dye’s last half of 2009 comes to mind, but we didn’t have three more seasons at an average of $14.75 million to look forward to. The tough part to swallow is that fact that we have no choice but to look forward.

What’s transpired up to this point is too gruesome to dwell on for long, but here goes.

Dunn managed two hits in Friday night’s loss to Washington. Of course, it took him 14 innings to do it. Dunn’s previous multi-hit game was back on May 14. Going into this month, his numbers (.185, five home runs, 23 RBI) suggested that he had nowhere to go but up.


Dunn’s June as of Saturday morning? A .161 average, two homers and six RBI. That’s against several familiar National League opponents.

Dunn looks like a beaten man at the plate. He is hitting .020 against left handed pitching. Even when he connected with what looked like a two-run homer in the sixth, Roger Bernadina was able to go over the wall and stick another shiv in the side of Big Donkey.

That’s how things go when you’re in a valley. Right now, Dunn is the Sultan of Slump.

At this point, the White Sox have decided to keep Dunn in the lineup, as opposed to bringing a guy like Dayan Viciedo for most of Dunn’s at-bats. No one deals for that contract, and sending Dunn to the minors won’t help and just humiliates a guy who by all accounts is showing up every day and trying to get his act together.

The best that we can hope for is that for some stretch of time Dunn is able to put together a productive streak in the second half. We can only hope that the White Sox will be contending if and when that happens.

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